Bill’s Badass 50K
I made the decision to travel back home to visit my family in the latter part of November this year. While sifting through races on ultrasignup I came across Bill’s Badass 50K. This race was not only taking place in the timeframe I was home, but it was also in one of my favorite places in the country – The Cuyahoga Valley. I spent four years at Baldwin-Wallace College where I trained at the Millstream Run and Rocky River Reservations. Therefore, I consider the Cleveland Metroparks my second home.
The race featured 4,472 feet of vertical gain and six loops in the southwestern portion of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Under direction of Bill Bailey and Bill Wagner the race has been going strong for eight years (I believe). Most importantly the race raises money for various charities, this year the proceeds benefited Girls with Sole. This is a great program that “uses free fitness and wellness programs to empower the minds, bodies and souls of girls who are at-risk or have experienced abuse of any kind”.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a 32,950-acre swath surrounding the Cuyahoga River, which reclaims and preserves the urban encompassed landscape between Akron and Cleveland. The Recreation Area became Ohio’s first and only National Park in 2000. The Cuyahoga River is a V shaped river that empties into Lake Erie and is steeped in history. The Native Americans utilized the river as a trade route, and provided the name, which means crooked river. The Western Reserve settlers used the river to fill the Erie Canal in 1827, leading to the rapid industrialization of northeast Ohio. Subsequently the river became an oozing mix of sewage and industrial waste, which caught fire nine times. Fortunately a 1969 river fire was a catalyst for a nationwide Water Quality Improvement Act.
The 22-mile Burning River is a work in progress but the efforts to improve the ecological health of surrounding tributaries and wetlands in Cuyahoga Valley NP have led to re-colonization of many animals thought to have been extirpated from the area. The park is a mosaic of habitats consisting of deciduous mixed-mesophyic forests, wetlands, and cultivated agricultural lands.
The course is a five-mile loop that starts and ends at the Everett Covered Bridge. This year the race took the counterclockwise route that featured a few hill climbs and some Furnace Run crossings. The trail meandered through thick deciduous forest; the ground was covered in leaves and the path slick and muddy. The weather was less than ideal, rainy and low 40s for most of the race. The rain ceased around the third lap, but a fleeting sleet storm struck around the fifth lap.
The first portion of the course went under the covered bridge then crossed a road before ascending a gradual hill that led to a flat stretch along the park boarder. Then a few curves in the trail cut down to the second road crossing which marked the half waypoint. After crossing the road, a series of creek crossings, rolling hills and tight turns highlighted the next mile. Immediately following the final creek crossing began the climb up the steepest hill in the race. After cresting, there was a mile flat portion that was quite runnable with the exception of the slick mud. The final descent consisted of a few switchbacks back down to the covered bridge.
Each lap my dad was there to encourage me on and hand me gels. After running the first lap in 39 minutes, I knew that a sub-four effort was out of reach given the trail conditions. The subsequent laps became slower and slower and my last lap took about 46 minutes. During the race I consumed about 24 ounces of water, 600 calories of Tailwind and 200 calories of gels. After the sixth lap we were directed up a set of winding staircases for one final ascent. Here we were tasked with grabbing a pack of crickets and descending back to the start/finish. I came through in 1st place with a course record time of 4:28:14.
The course was well marked, the landscape was beautiful and exactly how I remembered the old days running in the greater Cleveland area. The race directors did a phenomenal job, one of the most fun and memorable events of the year! Thank you to all of the volunteers for braving the weather. Thank you to my family for their support. Thank you to Ezekiel and Sara for letting me crash at their apartment in Medina. Thank you to my Tibialis Anterior for not flaring up too badly during the race. Thank you to my father for driving up with me, encouraging me on and supporting me through my first race in Ohio since 2012.
IMTUF 100 Miler to Bills Badass 50K Training Block
|18 to 24
|25 to 1
|2 to 8
|9 to 15
|16 to 22
|23 to 29
|30 to 5
|6 to 12
|13 to 19